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Emily Grossman

The Cop

February 25, 2008 at 11:09 AM

The first time I encountered him was on a Sunday morning, while traveling to Homer to teach lessons. Even while approaching him from behind, it was obvious by the sight of blue and orange lights that the truck was some form of law enforcement vehicle. State Trooper--in bold slanted font--I read on its side as I passed, my needle pointing at 39 in a 35. Surely he wouldn’t mind my inconspicuous exaggeration; after all, speedometers have been known to be off by more than that, anyway. That’s why I was so surprised when I saw the lights in my rearview mirror.

In the Safeway parking lot, he and I tentatively (and respectfully, I might add) discussed actual vs. hypothetical speed. He had no forms and no radar gun, so it was his speedometer against mine. Peering inside my car, he saw the violin case in the passenger seat. “Hey, mind if I get your business card? I’ve been looking for a violin teacher.” My stomach made my face flush. I mumbled something about the phone book and thanked him anyway for the free warning. Meanwhile, I memorized his license plate and made a mental note not to have any openings in my schedule for him.

The coffee shop crowd had a great time later, nibbling on my story while sipping their americanos. Wasn’t he that one cop that took underage girls out drinking? And wasn’t he that one cop that made lewd comments to the girl over at the Mocha Wagon? You can’t trust those cops, there are far too many up to no good. Corrupt predators, every last one of ‘em, with sharp pointy teeth under their wooly pretenses.

A few weeks later, I fielded a phone call from a man who explained that he took violin lessons once in Juneau, but the recent move up had severed him from his teacher. I told him I was booked, but if he would like to give me his name and number, I would let him know just as soon as I had any openings. I sensed sheepishness. It was then that he confessed tentatively (and respectfully, I might add) “...Actually, I’m ashamed to admit we’ve met already. You see, I was the cop who pulled you over a while back.” ...Oh. Smugly, I wrote down his personal information and thanked him for calling.

Booked. I have to admit, though, he didn’t sound very much like a toothy predator on the phone. In fact, I felt a little sorry for him because of the courage I sensed him mustering as we spoke.

Today I passed through Soldotna on my way to Homer in the typical Sunday routine, running five minutes behind and five miles over. Usually, I make a straight shot with almost no interruptions (minus moose and blizzards). Today however, I spied the blue and orange again, and going five under to boot. Shoot, do I pass him, or do I stay behind him for all 75 miles? Maybe he won’t recognise me, but if I pass him, I’ll have to speed just a little, and he didn’t like that the last time. But if I stay behind him, my sanity will whittle away and I will arrive at the lesson just in time to wrap violin strings around the children’s toes and hang them from the balcony. Then, what’s a speeding ticket in light of a double homicide?

I was still speculating the outcome of my options when the violin cop made a sudden unexpected right signal and pulled to the side of the road. He was letting me by! But why? Obviously, it has to be some sort of sting operation, since he knows I’m going to speed once I’ve passed. Plus he has those pointy teeth and all. He’ll run me down, and threaten me with handcuffs and other newspaper-worthy devices, and then how’ll I defend myself? I know, I could buy him off, offer him that slot that opened up last Tuesday. Yes, that’s what I’ll do: free lessons for a clean driving record.

He didn’t catch up to me after all, which seemed anticlimactic after the excitement I’d conjured. It wasn’t until the drive home that the thought occurred to me that maybe he was actually being purposefully nice in case I would reconsider him.

From al ku
Posted on February 25, 2008 at 2:16 PM
emily, what great prose! come on, it's fate,,,give him a chance!:)
From Keith Laurie
Posted on February 25, 2008 at 4:02 PM
Our youth and community strings orchestra could always use another violin....
From Kristin Mortenson
Posted on February 25, 2008 at 5:05 PM
Do you live in one of those towns where women go to meet men--where the men outnumber the women like 8-1? If so, I'd have to say the cop has a pretty clever line..."I want to learn ...uh...VIOLIN! YEAH, violin!" Or maybe he really is a nice guy. I'd still be a bit leery, though.

If I took him, I'd sandwich him in between two kids with big, burly dads and require the dads to come to lessons. Or maybe sandwich him in between two kids whose moms were prettier than me...

From Carol Cook
Posted on February 25, 2008 at 7:33 PM
So...he let you off with a warning, and you both knew you were exceeding the limit...he was respectful...he fessed up to meeting you previously when he called (respectful again)...he let you by on the road, presumably to speed on (and politely oblivious)...and you don't know if you should accept him as a student? How much nicer do you need him to be? Call his previous teacher if you want, check his credit, but consider that he may be treating you with such courtesy because his deep dark toothy secret is that he actually wants to play the violin. Of course, it doesn't hurt that you are a beautiful young woman but you are also a professional, yes? Quid pro quo. Return respect for respect given.



From Abra Richards
Posted on February 25, 2008 at 9:07 PM
give the cop a chance!! if nothing else, perhaps it will help with another warning when that sanity of yours can't sit behind someone going the speed limit!
From Christina C.
Posted on February 25, 2008 at 9:36 PM
I can understand being leery, but if I were a violin teacher & I came across someone who expressed an interest in taking up this crazy thing we do,I'd do what I could to encourage it
From Bernardo B
Posted on February 25, 2008 at 9:47 PM
I agree with the others: you should give the guy a chance - he looks like a nice person, even tough he's a cop ;-)
From David Allen
Posted on February 25, 2008 at 9:49 PM
Cops, maybe more than most, need a dose of sanity in their lives; let him come in from the cold!
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on February 25, 2008 at 10:32 PM
but what a fantastic concept. Have the fuzz playing in your section and when they start speeding he throws tickets around like confetti....
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on February 25, 2008 at 10:44 PM
I agree with Carol Cook. He sounds like a very decent fellow, even though he's a cop.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on February 25, 2008 at 11:42 PM
yep. Look at it this wya: by civilizing him you are making the roads so much safer for other drivers,
From Bonny Buckley
Posted on February 25, 2008 at 11:51 PM
are u kidding? it would be the perfect move to take him into your studio -- how could he ever pull you over then??? Just do it! You never know when you might need help from him either. just do it! : - )
From Tim C
Posted on February 26, 2008 at 3:08 AM
Since I'm not a suspicious person I'd say it sounds like the start of a good story involving people in uniform and their inability to give me speeding tickets.

But if I were suspicious...

I would tell him he had to try out for my one open lesson slot. Then if he seemed uncongenial there would be an excuse.

From Bob Annis
Posted on February 26, 2008 at 5:37 AM
C'mon. You're armed, what could be the problem?
From PM Chu
Posted on February 26, 2008 at 6:14 PM
Emily, take him!! It takes alot of courage for him to do that!!
From Rosalind Porter
Posted on February 26, 2008 at 7:30 PM
I agree with everyone, he's a cop - not an escaped convict - at least give him a trial lesson and see how it goes.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on February 26, 2008 at 9:19 PM
I don't understand the hesitation. But only you know what that particular police force is like.

I have an acquaintance who's giving up music to become a cop. I thought up a good name for a cop band. Call yourselves "The State Trippers." You're hereby granted unlimited license to use it in exchange for unlimited license to drive any way I want.

From Tom Holzman
Posted on February 26, 2008 at 9:45 PM
You can't have too many cops for friends. In addition, this may give you a chance to network in a part of the community where you do not have contacts.
From Rosalind Porter
Posted on February 27, 2008 at 2:03 AM
Additionally, you could always put a spiked collar on your chocolate lab, paint some fake blood round his fangs to make him look extra fierce and have him sit in on the first lesson to "protect" you!
From Drew Lecher
Posted on February 27, 2008 at 5:59 AM
and if he likes the flavor of the fake blood, he would salivate even more and constantly lick his chops…

yum,yum, cop chops:-)

From Jeremy Easterling
Posted on February 27, 2008 at 4:14 PM
So many comments on this subject. I am curious as to the real reason you do not want him as a student. Do you have any adults students currently or have you had a bad experience with one before, for whatever the reason may be I would make sure you are ready for this student before you take him on.

I am not sure if the comments about his character were made up or not(underage girs and such) but his record is public knowledge. And calling his previous teacher would be a good idea, on the premiss to judge his ability, persay.

But if you are just being overly cautious, take a chance, but call his teacher and maybe book lesson times at the local music store, for a more public environment.

From Paul Kim
Posted on February 28, 2008 at 6:43 PM
Entertaining but disturbing, since your assessment of the trooper is based on ??what??

Remember that these guys (and gals!) risk their lives everyday to keep us safe. Last year alone, 186 officers died in the line of duty, protecting and serving the public.

I am both a police supervisor and a concert violinist ... the two need not be mutually exclusive.

Remember that if you 'run' into him again ...

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on February 28, 2008 at 8:51 PM
Paul, actually she's agreeing with you - the assessment based on what. It took me a while to get it too. Her initial conditioned reaction and then the same thing from her friends, followed up by sarcasm about the sharp teeth after she'd thought it all over. It would have been clearer maybe if it ended with her taking him as a student...but I'm pretty sure she will. In defense of all of them, a bit of sense of intimidation on the part of the public is an important part of the biz I think ;)
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on February 28, 2008 at 9:20 PM
"the two need not be mutually exclusive."

I knew a cop who was a hillarious comedian. A former cop anyway. He had a shop where he did gun repairs in the afternoon and night, and in the mornings the taught machine shop at a technical school. I used to hang out at his shop when I needed to laugh my ass off. Being a machinist, he made a high percentage of the gun parts he used. He figured he could clean up if he could just have the kids make gun parts in shop class. Probably wouldn't have gone over.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on February 28, 2008 at 9:29 PM
Who actually knows what I meant by Lambert? The sheepish lion? Alluding to the fact that the one I mistook for a lion turned out to be harmless?

I will spell it out more plainly next time.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on February 28, 2008 at 9:32 PM
You don't know how sad I am now, thinking that no one got that.
From Carol Cook
Posted on February 28, 2008 at 10:18 PM
Why not just give the man a chance? You are a professional, yes?
I was looking for community when I found this site. Maybe he is too.


From Emily Grossman
Posted on February 28, 2008 at 11:32 PM
Carol, that's what I'm trying to explain. This is an essay about the tendency people have to prejudge others, about giving people chances, about sheep in wolves' clothing, so to speak. I failed to communicate that, it seems.

And besides, the slot won't work into his schedule.

The End

From Emily Grossman
Posted on February 28, 2008 at 11:54 PM
There, I changed it.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on February 29, 2008 at 6:42 AM
Good. When you've got cops mad at you, it's time to do something :)

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